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See What Happened When One School Banned Homework – And Asked Kids To Read And Play Instead


Do you think that our children are being swamped with homework lately? Do you agree that too much is required from them, especially from 5th graders and younger students? They spend a lot of time at school, but they are assigned a lot of work to do at home as well.

As a result, children have less time to do things that children their age are supposed to, play games, spend more time outside- actually, just be kids?  

Imagine a school where your children won’t be assigned any homework but just be asked to read with their parents or guardian at their own time.

The principal of the public pre-K-5th grade Orchard School in Vermont, Mark Trifilio, decided to give it a change to such project. Before the beginning of the school year 2016/2017, he asked 40 teachers from the school to give their opinion on the subject how much doing homework was helping kids learn and make progress.

Trifilio has been weighing the pros and cons of this idea, taking into consideration an unequal amount of homework assigned to students in different classrooms but same grade. According to him difference in homework assignments from grade to grade is illogical.

 After going through several researches on homework and its impact on students’ achievement in school, the principal concluded that doing compulsory homework in elementary school doesn’t necessarily mean great academic performance.

Alfie Kohn, a critic of homework, also says that spending a lot of time doing homework doesn’t have to result in higher academic achievement. (Alfie Kohn, September 6, 2006).

Instead we should allow kids in elementary school spend more time on leisure activities and engage in reading only when they feel like doing it.

Trifilio, suggested an experimental project to all 40 teachers. He proposed elimination on all homework in all grades and instead they should encourage students to read at home whenever they decide to do that. If students aren’t able to read on their own they should do that with their parents or guardian.

To his surprise all 40 members, including teachers in special-education and English-language teachers, passionately agreed to the idea and signed on the policy.

The policy was introduced on the school’s website which reads:

No Homework Policy
Orchard School Homework Information
Student’s Daily Home Assignment

1. Read just-right books every night (and have your parents read to you too).

  1. Get outside and play —that does not mean more screen time.
    3. Eat dinner with your family —and help out with setting and cleaning up.
    4. Get a good night’s sleep.

What were the results like?

Six months after beginning of the experiment, Trifilio was satisfied with the results. Students were achieving same results as before and in some cases they were doing even better.

They were no longer drown into homework , but rather had more free time at home to engage in some creative thinking and pursue their passions.

Students needed to read each night. The school provided books and reading materials for the children, but they were not asked to fill out logs like earlier.

In November, Trifilio sent a survey to the families asking them to give their opinion on the policy. 254 parents responded back and about 80 percent of them agreed that the policy was a success.

“We have a first grader, and at her age it’s much a chore for the parents as the kids. Instead we’ve been spending time reading. We don’t have to rush” -said parent Rani Philip about her child’s homework in an interview for Burlington Free Press.

However there were some parents who didn’t agree with the policy at all, worrying that their kids are missing a lot chances to learn something from doing homework and they are not getting enough prepared for middle school.

Although the subject about whether homework is positive or negative thing is still a matter worth discussing, according to a meta-analysis of research published in 2006 by researcher Harris Cooper and his colleagues, homework is not the key element in academic achievement in students.

It only has a humble effect on high school and college students when it comes to improving their academic performance.

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Kohn, A. (September 6, 2006); The Truth About Homework
Needless Assignments Persist Because of Widespread Misconceptions About Learning. Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org
Higgins DeSmet, N. (2017, January 31). Orchard Elementary parents say yes to no-homework. Burlington Free Press. Retrieved from http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/
Cooper,H. Civey Robinson, J. A.Patall, E. (Spring 2006). Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003. Retrieved from http://classtap.pbworks.com/f/Does+Homework+Improve+Achievement.pdf
The Washington Post; What happened when one school banned homework — and asked kids to read and play instead https://www.washingtonpost.com/